Being a Leader is one of the most important materials in building a successful and longstanding organization. But Being a Leader isn’t easy. It requires focus and self-awareness. It requires attention to detail and humility. A great leader must have balance in every arena. These are traits that can come naturally, but can also be developed in those who truly want them. So what does this leadership look like? How does an owner or manager become the type of leader that can take a company from the small business arena into the vast world of big business without getting lost in transit.
You Have to Want the Transformation
Leadership begins inside of you. Imagine yourself as a work of art, a sculpture. You start out as a big chunk of marble, and the first pieces of rock that have to be chiseled off are easy to see. Things like dishonesty need to be broken off to leave only integrity. Chunks of timidity chiseled down to leave only determination and boldness. Breaking off those blocks of negativity to leave more positivity.
Once you’ve done that, you are left with a figure that looks more human, but that still needs some fine tuning. This is where many leaders get, but become unwilling to finish the project. They say things like, “This is just who I am.” Or, “I’ve been like this for forever.” And what they mean is, “This is as far as I’ll go, and I am unwilling to change.” That type of leader will never be their best. Being a Leader is choosing to always grow. If you aren’t growing, or in the case of a sculpture, being chiseled and polished, then you are not growing. And many would say that if you aren’t growing, you are decaying.
This is step one in becoming a great leader, and if you have already decided this is too much, then turn back now. The chiseling process is not for the faint of heart. It requires constant commitment and humility.
You have to be willing to see your imperfections, but you can not be willing to settle for them.
You Have to Know what Chunks to Chisel
In this analogy, many times we are both the sculptor and the sculpture. So, we need to be able to see the pieces of ourselves that need to be cut off. Here are the top 3 things I’ve seen that leaders are most unwilling to chisel off.
The first flaw that leaders tend to have but choose to overlook is their Micro-management. The symptoms within an organization where a leader micro-manages are lack of enthusiasm from the staff, negative outlook for administration as a whole and frustration across the board. They don’t allow personal development or empower staff to be creative. These leaders are viewed as rigid and often, the micro-manager gets burned out trying to do the simplest of tasks.
You can recognize it by watching whether they delegate tasks and let the staff handle it. A micro-manager will also have the ‘my way or the highway’ mindset. More often than not, these leaders fail and either step down or are let go because micro-managing is never conducive to building a strong organization. It will always be the chunk on the sculpture that everyone sees is out of place, everyone but the micro-manager.
Are you a micro-manager? Introspection of oneself is vital to good leadership. If you are, don’t hide behind things like, “This is just how I am.” Or, “If I’m not this way, things won’t get done.” Learn to get the right staff around you so that you can delegate tasks and let them blossom to fruition. If you aren’t surrounding yourself with capable staff, then you have a bigger problem with your leadership than simply micro-managing.
A plague on being a great leader is found in indifference towards the company and towards the staff members. Indifference is defined as a ‘lack of interest or concern.’
Indifference to the Staff – Professionally
The most common form of indifference is found from the leader to their followers, in this case staff members. It often takes form as apathy towards the projects they are working on and the accomplishments they make. Remember that when an employee gets excited about their accomplishments and want to tell you, crushing that excitement by brushing it under the rug is bad for the company. Sure, they might be just trying to brag, but you can’t know their heart or motives so… just be excited as a leader and feed their excitement. We shouldn’t leave work beaten down and defeated because of our leaders.
Indifference to the Staff – Personally
Indifference for your staff also comes in the form of apathy towards their personal lives. Now, this is a tight rope to walk because there are Human Resource issues that arise from being too personal, but you can still care about your employees without crossing that line. You do so by allowing them to control the dialogue.
Leader: “Good morning, Susan! How is your week going?”
If Susan responds, “Fine.” Don’t try to dig, keep the comments on the surface level. You could say, “Fine is better than terrible, so I guess that’s a win!” Or, “Well hopefully by the end of the day it goes from fine to AMAZING!” If Susan wants to talk more, she will. Otherwise you leave the conversation knowing you gave positive remarks and didn’t pry into inappropriate territories.
If Susan responds with something deeper, then perhaps you step to that level. If she says her daughter is sick, you can apologize for that and ask if there is anything the office can do to help with that. Or perhaps it’s finances or trouble at home. You should point her towards HR and let her know that ‘this company is here to support her in whatever way they can.’ (Notice how the leader always pushes her towards the company, not towards them as an individual.)
Indifference to the Company
Lack of consideration for the company is the second major indifference you’ll see among leaders. They don’t care about the organization as long as their own wallets grow. These are the C-suite officers and Presidents who give themselves outrageous salaries, bonuses and allowances that don’t make sense for the bottom line of the company. Don’t mistake this as a dis against six figure salaries, but everyone should be paid according to their work and if the CEO is making more than what the owner makes, well that’s the indifference I’m talking about. If the CEO is taking a bonus that more than double’s her staff? That’s the kind of indifference I’m talking about. And if those allowances are greater than that which is offered to the other staff members, whether it is a car, health insurance, life insurance etc. Well, that’s what I’m talking about.
The company’s success and survival should be first and foremost, and bonuses should be based on the success of the company as a whole. Leaders who don’t care about the bottom line as long as their paycheck clears… That’s indifference to the Company.
The third chunk most leaders refuse to chisel is their ego. Ego in this case is a person’s sense of self-importance. ‘Egomania’ takes that to an unhealthy level, and in leaders it leads to a destructive and toxic work environment. But how does one know that their ego needs to get checked?
- If you have a self-proclaimed title or constantly feel the need to tell people your title… you might need to check your ego.
- Do you feel entitled to more because the company can’t run without you… you might need to check your ego.
- If you demand more money or bonuses or pay increases… you might need to check your ego.
- Do you ever take advantage of the company because you feel you were entitled to it… you might need to check your ego.
- If the company struggles but you don’t really care because it owes you… you might need to check your ego.
- Do you position yourself over the other people you work with… you might need to check your ego.
And that list could go on and on for days. Check your ego at the door… All it does is create a toxic work environment that will inevitably tear down the company or get you pushed to the outside and ready for the ‘boot’.
Being a Leader stands against all of these things. If you hope to lead people into a brighter tomorrow… you’ve got to drop these childish things. Leaders transform, and then they can lead.
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